Monday, 30 January 2012

Screen Actors Guild Awards: Best Dressed

Ah the SAGs. The award ceremony with the worst acronym and the least publicity. And this year some pretty uninspiring fashion, for my money anyway.

I've picked my five favourites below but in truth no one really grabbed me the way they did at the Globes earlier in the month. I guess it's just a question of personal taste, but for me it was just all a bit... safe.

That said, here are my top five in no particular order (all of whom I think look gorgeous, previous comments notwithstanding):

Amber Heard in Zac Posen

Not usually a fan of fish tail dresses, but this slinky number does the look subtly. Same goes for the cut outs. A master class in dressing for your shape, the aforesaid cut outs draw attention to all her best bits and the overall look is a modern take on the classic Hollywood vamp. Not convinced about the Jedward-esque quiff though!

Emily Blunt in Oscar de la Renta

The colour of this dress is stunning. It hangs really beautifully too. I like the detail on the bodice and the silver accessories are great against the vivid colour of the dress. 

Lea Michele in Versace

It's so Versace it's almost a cliché and it's try hard but jeez how good does she look?! Love the draping on the bodice, love the accessories (silver strikes again - and can we just all take a moment to look at those amazing, pointed Cassadei pumps?!) and love the pared down hair and make-up. I find all things Glee very annoying. I wish they'd stop dressing so damn well!

Jessica Chastain in Calvin Klein Collection

Such an amazing colour that really shows off the uber simple cut of this dress. CK is the CKing of pared down futuristic fashion (Jennifer Lawrence at last year's Oscars anyone?) but the simplicity of his gowns is what makes them special. Gorgeous earrings too.

Natalie Portman in Giambattista Valli Couture

Beautiful colour, beautiful cut, beautiful detailing. More love for the silver accessories too. Quite why she chose to skip the red carpet whilst wearing this I'm not sure!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

BBC4: a love letter

My darling BBC4,

I adore you. You know that, don't you? But why? Why, after years of regarding you with at best mild curiosity and slight confusion, have you come to be an indispensable part of my evenings and weekends?

I'll tell you: it's because of your incredible output. You have so many amazing, perfectly formed shows that just wouldn't get a look in anywhere else. That you give them their chance makes you a very special channel indeed.

Take the sublime Borgen for example. What other channel would show this exquisitely shot Danish political drama with writing and acting so good it makes The West Wing look like the work of five year olds? No one. But thanks to you I can watch two episodes every week. And I always do, because Borgen is the best thing on TV at the moment. By far.

And who else would've taken the time and effort that you did to make your excellent The Story of Musicals? A fabulous three part look at the rise of the British musical since the 1950s, I'm devastated that this had to end (but excited that you're filling its vacant slot with a nature documentary).

Then there's my beloved Only Connect. The best quiz show around by several country miles, no doubt your more mainstream BBC cousins thought it too nerdy and obscure. But you realised that it was this nerdiness and obscurity that made it such a brilliant show.

I could go on and on - I've not even touched upon your amazing range of documentaries on subjects as varied as the process of decay and the history and relevance of illuminated manuscripts (both of which were excellent, by the way). But I won't.

I just want you to know how much I love you.

Please, don't ever change.

Billi xoxo

Monday, 16 January 2012

Golden Globes: Best Dressed

Oooh I do love awards season. It's not that I'm shallow but, y'know, PRETTY DRESSES! And it kicked off last night with the Golden Globes. The very obvious key trend for this one was soft, muted colours - nudes, whites, creams - which I have to say I'm a bit meh about. But still there were some gorgeous gowns.

Here's my top five looks, in no particular order:

Angelina Jolie in Atelier Versace

A master class in both less-is-more dressing and how to be coordinated without being too matchy matchy. The neckline is gorgeous, but for me the highlight is the wrap detail at the hip. And no one does a blood red pout like Angelina.

Helen Mirren in Badgley Mishka

Age appropriate glamour at its absolute finest. Demure but glam with a blinging belt to highlight her ridiculous waist. And how is her skin that amazing?! I demand to know!

Emma Stone in Lanvin

Wowza. Fabulous colour, especially against her colouring, fabulous cut. The punky belt - which really shouldn't work but does, brilliantly - gives it edge.

Nicole Kidman in Versace

One that's divided fashion writers, but I love. The detailing is gorgeous and the cut shows off her incredible figure. Love the subtle gold accessories too.

Lea Michele in Marchesa

Another look that hasn't been universally loved but, again, I think is lush. Yes there's a fair bit of flesh on show here, but it's subtle enough to be classy. The liquid silver is gorgeous on her curves and I love the emerald bling.

Awesome thing of the day: Gary Oldman walks for Prada

I happened across this whilst having a quick tea break this morning and it blew my tiny mind: Gary Oldman walking in the Prada menswear show in Milan.

Seriously?! Or 'Siriusly?!' I suppose. Dude looks fiiine!

Check out this gallery from GQ for all the famous faces who walked this show and the drool worthy tailoring they were sporting.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Places to go, people to see: York

Ok, so I live in York so I didn't technically go anywhere to 'research' this post. But stick with me here.

It's one of those annoyingly true clichés to say that when you live in a very beautiful, touristy place you stop appreciating it. You get desensitized to the fact it's utterly gorgeous by the fact that you just see it every day, often through a throng of tourists getting in your way when you're trying to go about your lunchtime errands. This is certainly what's happened in my relationship with York.

But I had a new camera for Christmas (Panasonic Lumix TZ20) and on Monday lunchtime, having had a very lazy weekend during which I'd not left the house at all, I decided to take it for a walk. The following photos are the result. The first group, for those that know York/have an urge to know such things, are taken around the City Walls between Layerthorpe and Bootham. The second group are of York Minster. Obviously.

Figures on the top of Bootham Bar

Photo crashing pigeons

One of York's lesser known landmarks, but one of my favourites 

I love the light in this shot. All arty and stuff.

Some detail of the West Front

Detail around the door frame. I love this.

The Rose Window

Conclusions: a) York is just stunning and it's nice to be forced to remember that once in a while; b) the Lumix TZ20 is my new BFF. 

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Recipe corner: easy chicken fajitas

I love Mexican food as much as its possible to love a foodstuff. Until recently though I'd only ever used premixed spice kits when I made it. Then one week I made the rookie mistake of going food shopping with no list and forgot to buy said spice kit. Being the lazy type that I am - Morrisons is a whole two minute walk away and it was cold - I decided to have a go at making my own. And the results were surprisingly good. 

My fajitas are based on this Jamie Oliver recipe. I like a bit more heat in my Mexican than Jamie has in his - and I rarely have the time or inclination to make the salsa and guacamole - but this recipe is really easy. So if you're like me and enjoy eating your food much more than cooking it, this is one for you!

What you'll need 
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 onion
1 pepper (red, the king of peppers, is best)
1 peeled carrot (leave out if a bit niche for you, I just really like carrot)
2 teaspoons ground smoked paprika (and it really is worth paying the extra for smoked)
2 teaspoons chilli powder 
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 glug of olive oil
Smoked Tabasco to taste
Extras to serve: tortillas, salsa, sour cream and grated cheese (the stronger the better, frankly)

What to do
Cut the chicken, onions and peppers (and carrot if you're using it) into similar sized strips and chuck (technical term) into a bowl
Add the spices, Tabasco and olive oil and stir until everything is coated 

Then leave the mixture to marinate for at least five minutes - I tend to leave it as long as it takes me to do the washing up and get everything out to serve. You should also warm your pan (Jamie recommends a griddle pan, I use a frying pan) up at this point. 

When the pan is warm, chuck (technical term) the mixture and let it sizzle away until the chicken is cooked through. 

Then all that's left to do is serve with soft tortillas and your choice of accompaniments; for me it's all about strong cheese, salsa and sour cream. 

Om nom nom. 

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

2012: I'm back baby

Well it's January and you know what that means: new year's resolutions. Huzzah and hurrah. Maybe. 

Oddly for me, I've made a few this year:
  • Watch as many of my ridiculously large collection of currently unwatched DVDs as I can 
  • Read more, starting with my ridiculously large collection of currently unread books (spot a theme?) 
  • Take more photos
  • Be more adventurous in the kitchen. I mean with cooking and recipes and stuff, not the thing you were thinking. 
  • Catch up on some of the TV series I've been meaning to watch (Boardwalk Empire, The Wire, Human Remains et al) even if this means adding to that DVD collection
  • The usual exercise, healthy eating one
  • And, last but most relevant, try and finally keep a regular blog
So, whether you like it or not, I've returned to the blogosphere. Whether this or my diet last longer remains to be seen...